tv [untitled] February 21, 2013 4:00am-4:30am PST
>> good afternoon, president fong and commissioners, cory teague for staff. [speaker not understood] doing business as chase bank in the existing ground floor unit at the northeast corner of 17th and rhode island streets. the currently vacant unit is approximately 4700 gross square feet in size including a mezzanine. it will have direct access to the adjacent ground floor parking garage which is accessed from 17th street and will include 7 parking spaces reserved specifically for the bank. the bank will include three atms located within an interior vestibule [speaker not understood] which will be minimally visible from the street. the entrances and the ministration will not be altered on the billion but the existing awning will be removed. all-new signage will be required to meet the standard of article 6 of the planning code and no other significant exterior alterations are proposed in the project. within this contiguous umu zoning district which consists
of 13 full blocks and 8 partial blocks stretching from kansas street to interstate 2 80, the starbucks and sbaeerctiontionv located at the corner of 16th and kansas streets are the only two formula retail uses. by the whole foods located at the southwest corner of 17th and rhode island street is [speaker not understood], falls within the mur zoning district where formula retail uses are principally permitted. the sbaeerctiontionv at kansas and 16th street is the only other financial service or bank formula retail or otherwise located within this contiguous umu zoning district. and while the umu zoning district encourages wide uses, residential, retail offices and [speaker not understood], currently located within this contiguous umu district. regarding public comment, to date the department has received no public comment on this project. in order for the project to move forward, the planning commission must grant conditional use authorization to allow a new formula retail
use within this umu zoning district. the department believes this is a necessary and desirable project because no overconcentration of formula retail uses exist within the contiguous umu zoning district because the contiguous umu zoning district currently contains very few neighborhood serving uses. because the project will enhance the economic diversity use of the neighborhood, showcase square potrero general plan and general plan overall. therefore the department recommends approval of the project with conditions. that concludes my presentation. i'm available for questions. >> project sponsor, please. good afternoon, commissioners. i'm douglass fong, applicant and architect for the project. i'd like to say that the packages which you have before you include designs that
instituted significant revisions from our original proposal. we've been working very closely with planning staff to develop banks which are much more transparent to the pedestrian street. i'd also like to say through the pre-application process, we did significant public outreach to the surrounding neighborhood associations including the dogpatch merchant association and potrero boosters. i think that the general response that we've gotten back is that people are excited about having the convenience of a chase location at this spot and we're also available here for any questions you might have. >> thank you. is there any public comment on this item? okay. public comment is closed. commissioner moore. >> yeah, i asked this project to be pulled off consent because i would like to engage director in a discussion about my concerns regarding signage, particularly chase signage. i know that this project would
by reference fall under [speaker not understood] control in this area. however, i believe that formula retail signage, particular chase signage, so much [speaker not understood] desirable and acceptable. i'd like to use my experience of walking through chinatown particularly at this time of the year with the ambience of the street and lighting is a place of its own speaks to itself only to be seriously disturbed by the presence of a lit sign that is not only out of scale, out of color range, that youx because of its flickring quality. it is not an animated sign. it is visually disturbing. and while i understand that chinatown does not have signage control given that the signage itself is part of the ambience and a different language and colors which are inviting ask harmonizing with each other, the influx of formula retail in this area is what i believe is
a gateway side, we should be carefully monitoring signage. i'd like to ask the director what tools we have other than opening an investigation into the appropriateness of [speaker not understood] retail signage within the signage controls we have? >> commissioner, the zoning administrator can maybe help me with this answer, but i do think that if the signs themselves are subjects of the numerical requirement of the sign code and there is no discretion on the size of the sign and what it says. however, there is some -- we believe there is some discretion we have on lighting in terms of toning down the light. and if the commission so chose, i believe we could -- you could add a condition that asks staff to work with them to come up with an appropriate lighting level. i think you and i share the same concern about the
brightness of the blue signs that chase is using these days and it seems to go just beyond the sign. it's the general blue aura of their facilities is of concern. and i believe we would have the discretion to ask them to keep the lighting levels below a certain level. >> wouldn't this be an opportunity, if i may, to also step back and look at generally the proliferation of same looking corporate signage as it starts to become visually dominant over what normally signs are required to be -- they're supposed to be subordinate to the ambience and the environment in which they he can you remember. i had a conversation with mr. jocelyn regarding the excessive size and colors of the new -- newly transformed atms, and i'm talking particularly about one i sent him pictures of, bank of america, wells fargo where all of these sudden these things
transform themselves into major bill boards, for lack of a better word. i would ask that we discuss this in a broader context of more formula retail and unusual interpretation of atms and signage, et cetera, just to step back. it's not about saying no, but i think it's about turning how these things work with each other so that they don't overwhelm what we have spent so much time on taming, which is basically signs are to be subordinate to where they are. they're supposed to give you directional and jurisdictional information, but they are not basically the main purpose of why they're there. i'm concerned on this project. we are the gateway site. i'm not against formula retail, but i am not interested in having this intersection be dominated by an overly blue flickring sign at night where, when you get to this
intersection, you will use it as a mark for where you are. that is what i want to avoid. >> commissioner antonini. >> i'm certainly open to suggestion as to toning down the intensity of particular signage with relation to color, although i don't know we necessarily have to be to the point where we're dictating certain colors are not acceptable in certain areas. i would be very happy to see that applied to some commercial and residential areas where some houses are painted color that's that are really eyesores and, you know, unfortunately we can't do much about that and that's even more of an eyesore than a sign that's a little bit too intense a color of blue. but i think this is a good project. as has been pointed out, i'm in favor of putting language in our approval that would allow staff to work with the entity to make sure that the sign is -- intensity of the colors is not overly disturbing to the
area. however, i think this is a no-brainer as far as approval. there is only one other financial institution in the area as been pointed out. and often what happened over the years, industrial areas were under served by banks and some areas that were viewed by the banks as being undesirable, they actually pulled their branches out of many neighborhoods. and this is an under served neighborhood. i'm not even sure if there are a lot of bank branches up on the top of potrero hill. there may be some, but i'm not aware of a lot up there. so, i think it's important that people have the proximity to be able to walk and not get in their cars to do some of their financial needs. so, i think it makes sense, but i'm fine. i see there are a couple other commissioners, but i'm going to make a motion to approve with modifications that staff would work with project sponsor to address concerns voiced about the intensity of the signage. >> i'll second. >> commissioner sugaya. >> yeah, i'm not quite sure --
i understand the sign issue. i hate those things anyway. but it's not -- it isn't just the color. i think we talked about the intensity. it's also the number that chase seems to be putting up everywhere. i mean, you see some that are on corners there at least three signs, maybe, at least two, maybe three. then they have their atm, and then there's something else in the window. i mean, really. so, i think that -- i don't know the best way to go ahead with commissioner moore's suggestion. i think it's becoming a problem in many neighborhoods in the city. so, it might have to be something put on the department's work program. the other comment i have is that since the plans, drawings we have which i assume what we're approving don't show any signs, does that mean we're not going to have any signs? >> cory can answer that. as you know, signs are not discretionary. it's not part of your approval.
i will say that with respect to the number and size that you point out, it does require a change in legislation to limit the size and number. and i think you're probably right that we need to start thinking about making some code changes. but in this particular instance, the cory or scott can speak to the specifics of what types and how many signs are allowed. >> i think we've heard this before, so, just raising -- >> yeah, there will be signage. it is not known exactly what it will be at this time. it's be in the plans. >> i'd like to keep this dialogue going. i know commissioner moore has chimed in. not to pile on any more, but i think it's really more about signage and maybe more about the lighting and the up lighting and the blew up lighting that has more impact than any one sign possibly could. the architect mentioned to make this, the bank more transparent, i take that by meaning more glass, more open air. * but as part of the branding
strategy chase has, they actually have blue lights and back lit signs inside the stores themselves that illuminate through the transparency of the window out to the street. i'm kind of curious how we go forward, though, as far as putting restrictions. if we were to have staff work with the project sponsor, are we talking about a ceiling, a cap on voltage or wattage, i think per square foot per project? is there a calculable number we can assign to that as far as light travels? >> yeah. to clarify, commissioner antonini's proposed condition said signage. but i think what we couldn't say, you couldn't restrict the size of the sign, but you could restrict -- we could restrict the illumination levels. and i think that's what we'd like to work with them on, is how bright the signs are. we can't say you can't use blue, you can't use your logo or your name, of course, but we can work with them to reduce
the lighting level so that it's not a garish frankly in the short run. in the longer run, i think it requires some code legislation to put limits. >> i'm supportive of the business and the financial services that chase offers. i wouldn't be opposed to -- i know there is a motion to approve, but i wouldn't be opposed to continuing the item until this can be discussed further about the lighting volume and wattage and intensity of businesses going forward. commissioner moore. >> i would agree with that because if the department is tasked to undertake a study, then any legislation which might go out of it would then be retroactive because the rapid increase in these signs is starting to be annoying, particularly in the areas where you have mixed use and at night the blue light starts to affect people in their units. there have been no complaints, but what i saw walking down grand street made me greatly
concerned that later it will affect people at night because of the [speaker not understood] penetrating. having said that, if such legislation and signage would be retroactive and apply to this project, i could support the project. if not, i have some other questions. >> i'm going to ask the project sponsor maybe to respond to some of the thoughts. thank you for the opportunity. i would like to, again, reiterate that signage is not a part of our present design yet. the designs are still being developed. i want to point out that as we have been working with the planning department especially over the last couple years, on various different sites throughout the city, as particularly sensitive to historic location. you w -- all of the signs done for chase are on a [speaker not understood] basis. we essential look forward to continuing to work with planning department staff to achieve the kinds of effects on the neighborhood and communities we're in.
* certainly >> i'm sure there are certain design standards that he's going to try to meet. commissioner borden. >> i share? concern about the lighting, but i don't think continuing the item -- we're able to deal -- signage is not part of our approval. i think, if i understand it, if they pull the permit for the signs and new legislation were in place, then that -- whatever legislation were in place at the time they pulled the permit would apply. so, i don't know that continuing the item would solve the problem. but second airly, i have a question about whether or not we have any -- if the department of health or anybody has anything in the books about light pollution because light pollution is a problem and some cities have regulatory standard around light pollution levels. i don't know if we have any. >> on the first point, yes, you're correct it would be the law of the day, the law that is in effect when the building permit is submitted for the signs that would govern those signs. in regards to the light pollution, off the top of my head, i don't have information on any requirements there
regarding that concern, sorry. >> it might be something to consider looking at because it's not just [speaker not understood] a lot of different neighborhoods there should be different lighting levels based upon the kind of activity on a particular street. so, that would be something i think we could take up with the board. but at this point from what we have in front of us, you know, we're approving the bank with current plans, internal atms at minimum which is some hopeful reduction of the lighting. when would the signage come -- when would you have -- what is approximate timeline for the signage that you're working on? once we achieve entitlement for the establishment of the bank there, we start to develop our technical designs and the signage package is -- [speaker not understood] with the typical design. we're looking at a couple months, two months. >> given that we're not going to -- if we continue this, there's nothing for us to work on or to even give visa round that. i don't see any reason to do so. >> i would also like to -- i'm sorry. >> you can't speak, sorry.
>> again, i want to make clear, my concern is not with the signs themselves, but the up lighting and the lighting and visual effects that are being applied to the building on california and polk, on geary boulevard, on market street. you know what i'm talking about. commissioner antonini. >> thank you. i think i would like to ask project sponsor to comment on the questions that have been brought up here. you wanted to say something. i just wanted to advise the commission that a continuance might be very, very difficult for us to endure on this particular project having to deal with a development of a lease agreement with the landlord. so, if we can, i guess, look forward to working closely with planning department staff and with the commission if necessary, on the final -- the development of the sign alan design, we'd appreciate it if the project could be approved today and not continued to later. >> that would be my feeling. thank you, sir. i think that the project is one
that we should approve and i think my motion puts enough in it that we have made it very clear that should work with staff to develop signage even though that is not part of our entitlement, but it's been made clear by the motion that, you know, as findings, we want that to happen. and if we were waiting for some sort of legislative action to occur from the board it could be months or years before they'd ever come up with any kind of regulatory methods about the intensity of lighting. so, i think we have to look at this. as commissioner borden pointed out aptly, whatever is in place at the time that this will occur will be what will dictate it. but i think the sponsor sounds very willing to work and try to -- the other thing we could have and it can be part of my motion if it suits the commission, sponsor said about two months before he'd have the six weeks -- i don't know, you gave me a number, something like that, if we want to have a look back not another -- the
approval is done. but if you wanted a presentation before the commission at that time so we could just see that, we do that sometimes. it suits the seconder, that could be part of my motion. >> [inaudible] informational presentation and maybe talk about the bold issue, in particular the up lighting of sign. >> we kind of see what the signage is going to look like and we'd have an idea what kind of lighting would be there. as much as it could be done via what we receive in materials. and i think that would be -- would satisfy some of the concerns i've heard today. >> the issue of the lighting of the sign, not the signs itself. >> yeah, [multiple voices] >> the lighting of the building is my concern, not just the sign. sugaya. mci. commissioner sugaya. >> that's not my concern. in the neighborhood, [speaker not understood].
the number of signs -- we have an opportunity, we're talking about the department's budget later on in this session and we may want to suggest the department include some line item in there to work on this issue in a more serious vein so that we actually can address the sign issue in an overall comprehensive kind of manner. and it wouldn't be just lighting. it would be the number, the size, et cetera, et cetera. that said, i think that, you know, we don't seem to have similar issues with some other companies who seem to realize that being more subtle and, you know, blending in with the financial district and downtown and other neighborhoods seems to be the way to go and not be this blairing kind of corporate brand that chase seems to want to foist upon us. * blaring >> walgreens is not a good example, but they do have a
fairly nice treatment. * is it montgomery and california? somewhere downtown where it's very discrete. and i think they do have two signs, but they're not bigger than about two by two or something. and there are other examples like that that i think are fine and doesn't prompt me to trigger this request that staff start looking into this. it's, it's this particular company i think has been hoist up here that has now triggered the most concern. so, i think that maybe later on we can address that. and i know that lighting is a concern, but i also would urge the staff and the project sponsor to look at reducing the number of signs. and the last question you have is on the plans there are no atm signs ; is that correct? >> we have one a toshibation m
vestibule off rhode island street. inside the building lobby itself we have three stand freestanding atms. no atm's penetrating the exterior wall. >> thank you. >> commissioner hillis. * >> i'm okay with the use, but share some of the concerns. the building seems to be more billboards for the bank than they actually are buildings. so, just a question. can we bifurcate this notion of coming, bringing them back i think is good. i'd like to have a little more teeth. can we bring back the exterior improvements as an item for us to improve, i mean the more detail drawings that would include -- >> my understanding, commissioner, they're not doing [speaker not understood] to the interior and there are no discretion on the signs themselves. >> the vestibules where the atms are are open and the atms emit that hue, the whole thing seems to be more of a bill
board. >> the sign designs would come back to you as an informational item, but you wouldn't be able to act on it except to make comments on it. >> i think we could act -- the interior building improvements which would include an atm lobby? they're not really shown how they're lit. you know, if there's design elements like a light across the building, it tends to be -- >> that's the thing i would like to suggest that we work with them on, is the lighting that's applied to the sign versus lighting that's applied to the rest of the building. i mean, i think there's -- my sense is there is a distinction there. i don't know exactly how it works on their plans, but that's -- that was what i was hoping to work with them on. but there's no -- if it's applied to the sign itself, except for the illumination levels, i don't think there's a whole lot of discretion that we have. >> okay. i think the lighting for the sign is one thing, but the
overall lighting plan [speaker not understood] that seems to be related to the signage. >> it's a question of of whether the commission could put a condition on saying that lighting that is not part of the signage would be reduced or eliminated entirely. i don't know if that's a possibility or not. i mean, i think you could put a condition that the building signage not related to lighting is not provided as part of this cu. >> okay. >> commissioner moore. >> director lam, it doesn't seem this commission has any reasonable tools for push back. we cannot speed up legislation nor can we decide over signs and indirectly we can decide -- do not have jurisdiction over lighting either. >> the commission does have jurisdiction over illumination. on the sign section 604 is
clear saying an application for permit for a sign conforms to the provisions this code shall be approved by the department of planning without modification for this approval by the department of raja or the planning commission pursuant to the authority vested in them by section 26 part 3 of the san francisco municipal code, which is the dr authority and this is the only place in the planning code where it actually mentions that dr authority. so, there is some flexibility when it comes to historic properties. if you're article 10 or article 11, there is some discretion. we have certificate of appropriateness for signs. that is some discretion there. but where this building is located, we don't have the ability to have discretion on the signs. but we do have some ability to have discretion on illumination in general. i would suggest if the commission does want to address this, that it gives the department the ability to work with the project sponsor because there are other requirements in the building code, for example, for illumination for safety concerns. so, we wouldn't want to say the building has to be completely
dark if that would be in conflict with the building code requirement for exiting illumination. but if you would direct the sponsor to work with the -- sponsor works with the department to devise some solution for illumination, that i think is an option that you could put forward. >> i am prepared to do that. it still doesn't quite get to the core, but i think [inaudible]. >> let me ask project sponsor something. have you worked on -- you do other locations outside the bay area. in any of your experience or knowledge, has there been a request to chase to lower the light volume on some of the individual locations? i think that generally all jurisdictions that we work with have zone limitations that affect the kind of size we use and illumination levels. we develop very specific
signage packages and [speaker not understood] per the permit. they go beyond the exterior method signs we have on the building, but also talk about internal, not atm machines are included in the signage packages. the information is there for review. i'm saddened a little bit to hear such an objection to our sign quality. it is our intention to work with the community to produce signage packages. and esthetics for the bank itself, which blend in and are nice in the neighborhood. we provide a service and we want our banks to be appreciated in the community. >> commissioner antonini. >> yeah, i think zoning administrator sanchez made a good point, and that is that to restrict lighting entirely or to try to prohibit it goes against what we're trying to accomplish. a well lit building, tastefully lit, provides security in the area. there's less apt to be crime or
homeless encamp there or something if a building provides good illumination. you may think the color is too intense, but i think that the lighting is a good thing at night, particularly in the middle of the night. i think my measure was crafted carefully enough and if i need to revise the motion, i certainly will. we're coming back for a look see in a month and a half or whatever period of time is acceptable to project sponsor, approving it today on my motion. but a look back at what has been done and working with staff. and i think while we may not have the power at that time to deny our approval we make today, it certainly would send a message for the future if it isn't acceptable, we would have a clear ability to move forward in the future with what we do desire when we look at that result. and my expectation would be working with staff, hearing what we did today, and i think
project architect realizes what we're trying to gain. i think we'll get a very desirable result out of this. >> would the commission like, then, an informational presentation on the lighting and signage program or would a memo and plan suffice? >> i think we should have it part of our hearing so we actually see the plans back here with as much description as we can as to what the lighting has ended up being formulated. >> we'll just have it on the agenda. >> have an agenda item. it's not an action item. it's just an agenda item which will be informational. if that suits -- >> we could do that, but i still don't think we're going to have the tools to really enforce anything. >> no, at that point we won't have tools. we are enforcing this particular -- we are approving this. we are clearly setting guidelines as to what we're looking for. and if that comes back and it doesn't suit our approval, we can't deny